One of mine and James’ favourite films is Chef. Nothing much really happens in it – it’s just a really cute film. The main character is a chef  (hence the title) who is creatively stifled in his restaurant job, and ends up getting a food truck, travelling across America and mending his relationship with his son.

It combines some of my favourite things – street food, funky music and social media marketing. (There’s no way of writing that without sounding like a geek.)

So when I saw that Patty Smith’s (my favourite burger place) was hosting Chef: The Experience at Belgrave Music Hall (one of my favourite bars), I immediately bought tickets.

The event was part of the Leeds Indie Food festival (19 days of amazing food events across the city) and was promoted as an interactive, dine-along screening. In other words – you watch the film and are brought food that appears on the screen. What an amazing concept.

The event took place on the first floor in Belgrave, where they usually have the craft stalls and burlesque nights. There were sofas facing the large screen on stage, with candles on benches and potted plants down the middle aisle. It looked ace.

Sofas in the Belgrave

Screen on stage

Chef film menu

The bar was lined up with mojitos – always a pleasant sight. We got our drinks and then settled on a sofa near the front, munching through our cups of popcorn. Our foodie friend Emma turned up so we chatted to her before the lights went out and the film started.

A short way in to the film, Chef Casper loads up a plate of pasta for Scarlett Johansson. As soon as the scene started, staff walked down the aisle from the snug bar at the back with tasty bowls of pasta agile e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil.) We were impressed. And excited!

Not long after, a grilled cheese sandwich appeared on screen, and then in our hands. (If you end up watching the film, make sure you watch the credits at the end – there’s a great bit where one of the real chefs shows Jon Favreau how to cook a perfect grilled cheese sandwich and is so “in the zone” about it. It’s brilliant.)

Being able to smell the cheese as it was shown in the film was a really funny experience. Adding the sense of smell to the mix as well as hearing and seeing the movie was quite bizarre, but really cool.

It was an amazing cheese toastie (and I don’t even really like cheese). As I was eating it I realised I was getting full and should probably stop, seeing as more food was on its way, but it was so good I ended up devouring all of it.

Throughout the rest of the film we were also served:

  • Tostones with chilli vinegar. (I had to look up what these actually are. Tostones are twice fried plantain slices. And if you don’t know what plantains are, they’re a starchy, unsweet variety of banana that are inedible raw and must be cooked before eating. Thanks BBC website.)
  • Cubanos – they actually got a little cheer when they were brought out. It’s the food you think of when you mention Chef. Cubanos, or cuban sandwiches, are filled with cheese, ham, pork and pickles. These were delicious. Even better than the ones we had from a food truck in San Francisco.
  • Yuka fries (root veg, like a latino version of chips) with banana ketchup
  • And beignets, which are New Orleans style doughnuts

I had more cheese and carbs that evening than I normally would in a week! I was so full, but I pretty much ate everything other than leaving one yuka chip.

When we booked our tickets, we were a little wary about the event being £30 each, but it was so worth the money. Not only was the amount of food generous, but it all tasted delicious.

Even though I knew we’d be eating as we were watching the film, I couldn’t picture beforehand how it would work. It was a really slick operation though. The staff brought out the food so quickly, and everything was served hot. I was really impressed.

I wish I had photos to show how good it was, but we were too busy eating the massive amounts of food and watching the film.


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